Air conditioning, often referred to as A/C, is a process of changing the temperature and humidity of the air to more comfortable levels. In common use, an air conditioner is a device that lowers the air temperature and removes humidity. The cooling is typically achieved through a refrigeration cycle, but sometimes through evaporation too.
It is worth noting that air conditioning can refer to any form of technology that changes the air; heating, cooling, dehumidification, cleaning, ventilation, or just general air movement. So where does the term HVAC come from? Generally used in construction, such a system usually includes the heating and cooling but in addition to the duct system that carries the conditioned air through the home, building or car.
Where Did Air Conditioning Come From?
If you don’t count the Chinese inventor, Ding Huan, who invented the first fan, the real breakthrough came with Benjamin Franklin and John Hadley. Together they explored the concept of using evaporation to rapidly cool objects. It wouldn’t be another 62 years before someone had the bright idea of applying the concept to cool small areas, rooms and even buildings but even then the world was without air conditioning.
Inventor Michael Faraday discovered that compressing and liquifying ammonia could chill the air when the ammonia evaporated. He’s worth noting as he did make a critical jump and advancement and first introduced the idea beyond what Franklin and Hadley discovered. His ice machine which worked only part of the time put us on a crash course for changing the air quality of homes.
Finally in 1902 Willis Carrier, while solving a problem for the Buffalo Forge Company, finally realize the potential for central air conditioning to cool rooms. While there he was experimenting with air conditioning. By cooling the room he also began removing the moisture from the air. By doing so it allowed their printing presses to operate more effectively.
So How Does It Actually Work?
Air conditionings work because of a process call the refrigeration cycle. With this process, physics and chemistry, we can achieve comfort in our homes.